Sunday, August 29, 2010

Feel the rhythm feel the ryhme......

School has started in Colorado Springs and with that comes a new group of kids at the Boys and Girls Club.  It was very difficult to say good bye to the summer campers, but I am getting to know and learning more about the new kids everyday.  It was exciting to meet two new girls who almost immediately remembered meeting me at the Olympic Training Center.  They recalled my sport and were very excited to share with their peers what I do.  I was heartbroken to hear that many of the kids had no idea what Bobsled was and did not watch any of the winter Olympics.  Of course, I asked them if they had seen the movie "Cool Runnings," which is how most people identify our sport, but none of them had.  I found the movie (which took a great deal of work!) and we all watched it together.  I got a chance to explain with the boys and girls what I do and answer any questions they had about my sport.  It was a lot of fun to see how focused they were watching the movie and trying to figure it all out.  I am glad they got to learn a little about me as I learn more about each of them. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Superman .....or Woman!

The other day I was looking through a magazine and happened to stumble upon an article which highlighted a plus size model. I was completely astonished to see that this plus size model was 5’10’’ and weighed 150 pounds. If our society is claiming this size is plus size then what are we being told is ‘normal?’ Body Mass Index or BMI is a way to measure body fat based on height and weight and it assesses if individuals are at a healthy weight for their body height (obviously there are exceptions, as most athletes are considered to be out of range because of the increased muscle mass). This 5’10’’ 150 pound female has a BMI of 21.5, which is in her normal range of 18.5-24.9. It infuriated me to see a female that was within normal range, according to her BMI, be considered overweight.

I am 5’8’’ and weigh 175 pounds. I recognize that my size is not a normal size and is a bit extreme because of my sport, but I would hate for young woman or a female athlete to be looking at that same magazine and feel inadequate because they will never look ‘normal’ according to these images. In today’s society 5’10’’ and 95 pounds is considered to be an averaged sized model.  This is an unrealistic size for any healthy female to attempt to be. I have learned over the years that in order for me to be successful in my sport I have to be this size even if it is unorthodox and I hope that other females can follow suite.

This exact same day I went to the Boys and Girls Club where the project of the day was for the kids to imagine what super power they would have and to draw themselves as the super hero. Ironically, one of the girls, Niya, created herself as ‘Flex Girl.'  Flex Girl helps people out of trouble by flexing her strong muscles. I asked Niya where she got the idea for her superpower.  She told me that she saw my muscles and thought it would be cool to be strong like me!  I was incredibly moved that I inspired Niya to look beyond the unhealthy 95 pound model seen in the magazine and show her that any body type is beautiful.  This interaction helped to further motivated me and to push me to dream big and work hard in weight room or on the track.  Not only for myself, but also for young girls like Niya.  Every pound of muscle I have on my body is a direct reflection of my hard work.  I am proud of the body I have created regardless of if it is 'normal' or if I will ever find jeans to fit over my quads! 

Until next time, I am off to the gym to keep my super powers in tact!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


The past three years I have been very fortunate to have two time Olympian and 2010 Gold Medalist, Curt Tomasevicz, as my training partner. He is one of the hardest workers I know and has not only pushed me in the weight room and the track, but he has taught me valuable lessons about our sport. His advice helped prepare me mentally for the ups and downs of the Olympic season. As long as I have known Curt, he has talked of his love for two things: the Chicago Cubs and the band Pearl Jam.  I really had no clue about either of these two things and have gradually over the years learned to appreciate and understand his infatuation. A couple years ago, Curt shared with me three dreams he wanted to fulfill in his lifetime. 1. Win an Olympic Gold Medal 2. Throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field 3. Play his bass guitar with Pearl Jam (which was completed this summer with the help of a family friend).

After last season when he and his team, ‘The Night Train,’ won Gold at the 2009 World Championships, I determined that Curt had the accompliments for me to help make his second dream happen and the talent to make his first happen. I was on a mission. I was somehow going to make his first pitch at Wrigley Field happen.  After many discouraging emails and phone calls I recruited the help of my teammate and Chicago native, 2010 Olympian, Jamie Moriarty. I asked Jamie if he had any ideas of how I could make this happen and coincidentally he was trained by a coach that had connections with many of the Cubs players and even the owner! Jamie and I sat down and composed an email to Todd Ricketts, the owner of the Cubs, expressing why we thought Curt, a long time Cubs fan, would be a perfect candidate for throwing out the first pitch at one of the games. A few days after the Opening Ceremony Jamie got an email back from Todd confirming that Curt was going to have the opportunity to throw out a first pitch. We were ecstatic and felt like little kids waiting for Christmas as we held in our secret and waited until after the final Bobsled runs to tell our teammate what his future held.

                          Jamie, Curt and I on Wrigley Field

Last week Curt and I (and about 60 of Curt’s family and friends) traveled to Jamie’s hometown, Chicago, for the much anticipated first pitch. It was amazing to watch a grown man, on the pitchers mound, in front of thousands of fans, realize a childhood dream. It is easy as athletes to forget that we get the opportunity to do incredible things daily. Every one of us may not have the opportunity to complete all the things we want to do in our life before the age of 30, like Curt has done, but we have accomplished more than many have dreamed of doing. After seeing Curt accomplish his three dreams I have realized that really anything is possible. Anything. Whether it is throwing out a first pitch, playing with your favorite band, or even winning an Olympic Gold Medal. These dreams are all attainable, it is just up to us to find a way to make them happen.